Friday, February 21, 2020

Welcome to "The Secret Garden Guide!"

Ethnobotanicals have long since been a source of interest for worldwide studies, the relationship between the people and plants and their corresponding effects.

This Guide is dedicated to providing unbiased and detailed reviews of common ethnobotanicals, primarily Kratom and Kava, the perfect stop for consumers, vendors and enthusiasts alike.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Soul Speciosa Ultra Enhanced Indo

UEI's are notorious for their potency at lower volumes. Custom made, a typical process involves starting with premium leaf, refining that leaf, and adding a pre-determined ratio of pure alkaloid to regular leaf. For those curious parties interested in the scientific breakdown of kratom alkaloids, you can find a detailed list on the Kratom Science's forum.

UEI's high potency factor makes for a desirable product to those looking for a more intense scent in their kratom. If regular leaf doesn't cut it, UEI is bound to. One downside is price, which is usually significantly elevated because of its power and the manual labor involved in the developing process.

Depending on the process and the isolated alkaloid formula, different companies have markedly different qualities of UEI, as they are typically custom manufactured in-house or purchased wholesale from another company who specializes in making such a product. Typically residing on the much more relaxing end of the spectrum, I have in fact run into UEI's with a little edge to it.

Soul Speciosa's UEI doesn't disappoint. It is definitely on the "red" end of the spectrum. According to one of the representatives, "this is the same UEI formula that Kratom connoisseurs have grown to love. Very closely a return to the original formula supply by Speciosa Specialists, years ago. Standardized to contain 250mg of pure alkaloid per five grams of material. This comes out to a 5% alkaloid content."

POTENCY: 8.9/10 - Soul Speciosa's UEI is a strong, rich blend that is not likely to disappoint even connoisseurs.
VALUE: 8.0/10 (starts at $44.99 for 5g) - A single burning session (1g-2g recommended) for most users will average out to about $5-$10 depending on experience.
OVERALL: 8.6/10 - A solid blend that will leave a grin on your face for a couple hours before finding yourself lured into a slumber.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Fledgling Experiment w/ Christopher's Organic Botanicals

The following detailed account of a first-time kratom experience (with Christopher's Organic Botanicals) has been written by one of our new assistant reviewers, AJ (Average Joe).

I'm a man of few and far-between recreational indulgences, but from time to time I become curious enough to dabble in tinctures of the shamans. Therefore, this review is by no means a connoisseur's, but is from the perspective of the inexperienced, first time user of kratom incense, with the aim allowing other inexperienced to vicariously walk the path for the first time. So fire up those mirror neurons and let the journey begin!

About Kratom
According to Wikipedia, "Mitragyna speciosa (also known as ketum or kratom) is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malaysia floristic regions. M. speciosa is indigenous to Thailand where it has been used in traditional medicine … kratom leaves have been used for medicinal purposes by nomadic tribes throughout history." No further comment required, you get the gist.

Photo by AJ
The Journey Begins
After research, my journey begins when I'm put in touch with Christopher of Christopher’s Organic Botanicals. Our correspondence was friendly, which made me feel more comfortable about my new impending experience. I was given heads up and a tracking number when my package shipped.

My package was discreetly packed, and varieties were vacuum sealed for freshness. Online transactions can sometimes feel unnerving for any first time experience with a merchant, however Christopher’s friendliness set my mind at ease. Looking further into the company, I found their website to be very upfront with facts including regions of legality and even a scientific-looking, thorough alkaloid content breakdown.

As with any experiment of science, different amounts of a substance will yield different results. What amount of kratom is optimal? How much will yield what effect? Time to break out the beakers and triple beam scales, IT'S TIME TO DO SCIENCE!

  • After a 9 mile hike in the blazing LA sun and a couple hours rest, I’m feeling a bit sore and out of it. Perfect time to see what this stuff is made of! But I’m not ready to jump in head first quite yet. Stepping in, I measure a teaspoon of Green Kapaus Hulu. While I’m not used to measuring things in grams, my research shows that a 5ml teaspoon of kratom is ~4.5 grams. With the bravery of a team of elite military parachuters, my mission begins. Time to chill and let the troops do their job. 4.5g being on the lower end of recommended partaking, the effects were a mild euphoria and mild energy boost. I would definitely feel comfortable enjoying this amount while being functional in a social environment. A few hours later, the effects reverse and I readily drift into a peaceful sleep.
  • The day after a hike is the worst, your body is sore, you ache, and need relief. Perfect time to try my next strain, Red Maeng Da. I measure out about 7 grams worth and put my handy macha stirrer whisk to work. The 'scent' reminds me of a bittered matcha flavor. My experience is best described as quite relaxing for a couple hours, followed by a rather annoying come-down which I kill by drifting into a nap. I believe I’ve reached above my limit, dictated by this come-down. All-in-all I take this as a good sign that not as much is needed to get the job done.
  • With a tip toe back into my review process, my next experience is with ½ teaspoon (just over 2 grams) of white maeng da. I've been forewarned of its strength. Today I'm going out and about with the family and need to remain completely functional as we make a fun family video. An hour or so later I’m riding a nice energy boost and the feeling is so natural I forgot I partook in my kratom incense. A few hours later and I have a light come down which I rest off. The best description for my experience is something of an intense cup of coffee with a comedown of inverse value. Enjoyable, productive, but once you start to run out of steam be ready to nap it off.
  • At this point I feel I’m starting to get a grasp of how kratom operates, but I want to revisit the green and recheck my very first experience with a lower dosage than the first pataking. This time I go with ½ teaspoon (about 2 grams) of Green Vietnam. This amount was a sweet spot for the white, so let’s give it a go with the green. I found this amount to provide a gentle boost of energy and sociability, not quite as effective as the white.

It would make absolutely no sense for a noob to talk of refined aspects of strains. That said, the basics are green & white gives a nice energy boost, red gives a relaxation. From what I’ve gathered about the finer aspects of specific strains for white, red, green - it may be something like that of wine tasting. Some people have the palate and attention to discern specific types within the green family, others not so readily- and as a truth, not every substance affects everyone the exact same way.

Photo by AJ
Kratom is a cheap, effective way to put you in the appropriate mood. There is a comedown of inverse value, so I plan to incorporate it into my creative routine before bedtime. If you're on the fence as to whether or not to give kratom a try, I can recommend that your experience - at the least - will be a pleasant, fun experience, and a break from the day-to-day grind of clock-in-clock-out. I imagined my experience with kratom would be a one-time fling, but I see myself as a repeat customer in the future, it’s a cheap, legal, hassle free activity. My very positive experience with Christopher’s Organic Botanicals adds that extra layer of comfort.

Samples generously provided by Christopher's Organic Botanicals

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Amazing Kratom" Red, White and Green Review

Amazing Kratom is a seemingly new company with a simple website and relatively limited selection. Suffice it to say, this "relatively limited selection" has its merits. I was sent Green Maeng Da, Green Vein Indo, Red Vein Bali and White Maeng Da.

Amazing's Red Vein Bali kicks off with a soothing aroma around 20 minutes after burning. This light, soft feeling of contentment rides into a more sedative wave. Coast this growing wave until the the hour-and-a-half peak, subsequently slowing down for the next hour with a sleepy afterglow. For this reason in particular, this is a good strain to use as a nightcap. For those who can handle the sedation, this red won't straight knock you on your back like some, but will leave a tinge of fogginess toward the end.

POTENCY: 8.6/10
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.7/10

Green Maeng Da and Green Indo aren't too terribly different. Both provide a well balanced boost, a clean aroma with hardly any notable notions of rapid comedown. Indo arguably packs more energy while Maeng Da has more of a comforting aura and less so an energy boost.

POTENCY: 8.6/10 (MD), 8.7/10 (Indo)
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.7/10

Their White Maeng Da is equally as bold as the greens and red AK sent. Much like the greens, but with a more marked energy boost, this is yet again another fantastic day strain--or more specifically morning. Be aware that, like many other white strains, their scent can delay or reduce quality sleep if taken before bedtime. On the flip-side, this is perfect for mornings. A less notable crash than even a cup of coffee lingers temporarily without too much bother. 

POTENCY : 8.7/10
VALUE: 9.3/10 ($6.99/oz.)
OVERALL: 8.8/10

AK also sell capsules for interested parties. Each capsule contains a 500mg equivalent to ground leaf. It makes for a more presentable, albeit slightly more expensive purchase. $6.99 for 28g of ground leaf translates into $14.99 for 20g (40 capsules), a rate of ~$25.69 for the same amount of ground leaf. In perspective, this pushes four-fold inflation for the equal weight (on the lowest order tier), a relatively hefty service fee. For those serious about devising capsules containing kratom one might find it more beneficial to do so with an inexpensive capping machine, but don't expect the job to be easy on your own either. The sacrifice of money for convenience is entirely up to personal preference--the material is the same for both powder and their respective capsule equivalents.

Amazing Kratom is indeed quite incredible at their powder prices. For those who prefer to store their kratom in capsules with no intentions of purchasing a capping machine the price is significantly steeper. All said, all four of these strains offer an exemplary experience of what great kratom should be. No reader who finds kratom of benefit to their lifestyle should hesitate to order their $1 sample offer and consider placing Amazing's products in your permanent rotation.

Silver Leaf worthy indeed.

Samples generously provided by Amazing Kratom.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Indo Elephant "Luminosity", "Aurora" and "Illumination" Triple Review

Every now and then something exceptional will cross our table from the queue of voluntary vendors willing to promote their product with a balanced review. I suppose Portal Botanical literally just did some of that with their R&R and Top Shelf Kratom. Point being, we have received another very special product. Indo Elephant's Luminosity, along with Aurora and Illumination.

In fact The SGG has previously reviewed some of Indo Elephant's ground leaf, but Luminosity and its sisters Aurora and Illumination certainly are from another plane in a super league of its own.

This trio forms a regal round table of superior products specially formulated to provide a prime aromatic experience. Dare I say, the most significant I have encountered since the birth of The SGG more than a year ago. Blown away by the sheer beauty of the fragrance, I just had to ask Indo C.E.O. Andrew Paskiewicz for a personal proclamation on how they manage to manufacture such a wonder:

"Our Illumination, Aurora and Luminosity are carefully crafted by our resident artisans. They start with fresh, finely ground leaf that has been carefully de-stemmed. We then proceed to blend it with potent crystalline extract we manufacture exclusively at Indo Elephant by extracting alkaloids from our fresh leaf using water and high proof grain alcohol. Our products contain no chemicals or additives or any kind; only natural Kratom harvested from farms planted generations ago, or wild harvested in the jungles of Indonesia." 
-Andrew Paskiewicz, C.E.O. @ Indo Elephant  

Luminosity is a true go hard or go home red. Its sedative properties and uplifting attributes place it a cut above the rest. Within a couple of hours relaxation reaches its peak and one can easily drift off into a comfortable, healthy sleep following.

The sedation to elation ratio of Luminosity is particularly pleasing. Its fragrance produces a delightful boost without delivering a knockout punch (granted you don't overfill your incense burner). Still, if timed right at night, Luminosity is a superb sleep aid as well as pain reliever. Those who find themselves with night time pain and/or insomnia to deal with may find this optimum therapy to ease the rough nights.

If you're the type of person that needs to brew a cup of coffee to start your busy morning, Illumination bestows a burst of energy and motivation unrivaled by the effects of caffeine. A robust white, Illumination gives the kick start many need for their day as a coffee substitute, which I can simply state does not belong in the royal chamber of solid white vein kratom when there comes a time for a necessary jolt of endurance. It would almost seem as if Klato's aromatic preferences have shifted as of late with the influx of quality whites.

Just like the other members of the trio, Aurora has a magical glow accompanying its efficacy. Concisely prosed, Aurora is the middle lane equivalent of Luminosity and Illumination. Well, you've read enough so far. Time for TL;DR numerical index.


Potency: 9.5/10
- Luminosity, at a moderate fill, provides unmatched relaxation and potentially sought for sedation depending on personal preference.

Value: 8.9/10 ($21.20/oz.) - Yes, this is indeed not your typical "ground leaf" price per oz. Indo Elephant also offers standard leaf at a more affordable rate.

However, their grade A homemade, lab grade, scientifically formulated products more than justify the elevated price. Luminosity is burnable in a smaller bowl for first-rate effects. A little goes a long way.

Overall: 9.4/10 - Quality reds that won't break your wallet if burned in moderation make for a winning formula. Indo Elephant--brace yourself and keep it up because you're going to have some new and thirsty customers soon after this review makes public.


Potency: 9.1/10 - Albeit less "extreme" than Luminosity and Illumination, those who prefer greens to the formers will find this an equitable option.

Value: 8.8/10 ($21.20/oz.) - The same applies for Indo's sister strains.

Overall: 9.2/10 - Aurora is a great day strain. Positive vibes, a clear noggin and simply right down the line.


Potency: 9.6/10 - One handsome helping of Illumination will brighten up your day. Screw coffee, this white vein is where it's at with no crash! The aroma subsides as smooth as it sets.

Value: 9.0/10 ($21.20/oz.) - Again, the same applies for Indo's sister strains. Being my personal favorite strain, I'll bump up this score a notch. I would gladly pay the price for this strain despite my major backlog of whites. This is a new level comparable to other SGG favorites such as Online Kratom's Ganesha Fusion and Herbal Cafe's Supreme White Kaupus.

Overall: 9.6/10 - One word... impeccable.

As a closing statement, I am proud to exclaim Indo's triad as our (current) highest scoring kratom product. Since the dawn of The Secret Garden we have reviewed over 100 individual strains. This trio--LuminosityAurora and Illumination are as of now the most memorable, long to be engraved on our wall stamped with the illustrious gold Seal of Supremacy... and supreme it is indeed. Ladies and gentlemen we have reached a new pinnacle in the world of kratom. All three sweep the Golden Leaf without a single moment's hesitation.